Go Snorkelling on The Giant Clam Sanctuary Samoa
Samoa suffered some major coral losses in the 2009 Tsunami. While the fish life is quite abundant, you see dead coral everywhere so we were surprised to learn that you could snorkel a Giant Clam Sanctuary at Savaia Village on Upolo.
The Samoa Giant Clam Sanctuary is easy to find and can be snorkelled at any time. Let me help you find this amazing clam bed and show you what you can expect to see. It really is amazing and one of the best things to do in Samoa.
The History of the Giant Clam Sanctuary in Samoa
I initially thought these clams must have been brought back in after the Tsunami, but that isn't correct. The Samoan government started a program to restock overharvested clams in the 80's and some of the larger clams are from the original regrowth plan. Some of the smaller and newer ones have grown naturally and some have been added to the clam bed.
There are over 45 villages participating in the Giant Clam program but as far as I'm aware, this is the only one you can snorkel.
How Does the Giant Clam Program Work?
As part of the program to regrow a healthy amount of clams in Samoan waters, the program was developed to not only regrow the clams and keep the oceans alive, it was also developed for the purpose of teaching the communities about being ecologically responsible.
As part of the program, the Giant Clams are given to the communities as very small seedlings at no charge, and the community then grow them out for 10 years or more.
The villages may harvest one for a community event or occasion, but special request must be made for anything other than that. Overall the growth program is hugely successful and this particular community is benefiting from creating a tourist destination.
Clams are considered a delicacy in Samoa which was one of the reasons they became endangered. Combine that with a few large cyclones and of course the Tsunami and the beds could have been fatally damaged.
Luckily the government stepped in and now Samoa once again has a healthy amount of clams growing in its waters. Not to mention this is one of the best Samoa snorkeling spots on the islands. There isn't too many places you can swim over the top of such beautiful giant clams.
Giant Clam Sanctuary Location And How To Get There
Savaia Village is on the south west coast of Upolo. Upolo isn't a huge island so if you are in Apia it would be about an hours drive to the clam beds from the city. The giant clams are part of the MPA or Marine Protected Area and are very easy to find.
We were staying at Matareva Beach Fales so it was only about 20 min drive for us, which consisted of about 10 minutes to get out of the track from Matareva and onto the main road. If you are staying at Matareva Beach Fales, this map below shows you how to get to the Giant Clam Sanctuary at Savaiai Village. Excuse my terrible route drawing – I was doing this on the plane home on my phone.
Directions to Giant Clam Sanctuary From Apia
If you are coming from Apia, you use Cross Island Road and when you get to the T Junction at Main South Coast Road you turn right. You drive about 23 kilometres until you get to the turn off (as I've marked) and head down that road to the village. At the ocean you turn right again and you will see a timber hut where the locals sit to take the money for the Clam Sanctuary.
As you arrive to the beach there is a T junction at which you will turn right to park your car along the verge but directly in front of you slightly to the left is the main Fale where the village members usually collect the 20 Thala fee. Currently 20 WST is about $11 AUD or about $7 USD (May 2023).
If there isn't anyone there just walk over to one of the houses opposite the beach and call out and someone will come out and grab the money. They do really appreciate you being honest and paying and thanked us profusely for not just driving off.
Where the Clam Beds Are Located In The Water
There are steps down into the water right near the locals Fale, or to the right there is also another set of steps about 20 metres from the Fale, however these steps come out of the water at anything other than full high tide so you have to have some decent upper body strength to haul yourself up about 30-40 cm.
The main steps go down all the way into the water, however the bottom few can get really slippery. I took reef shoes to get in and out of the water. I used them to get down the stairs and then left them about 2 steps up so I could swim up to the steps and then reach up and put them on to get out.
The clam beds are about 30 metres off the shore but its an easy swim and mostly very shallow. Try to visit on the high tide so that the swim out is easy. If the tide is low you will find yourself having to move around shallow coral heads.
There is a cable to swim over but its just a case of floating over the top of it.
Once you are out into the marked off area, all the clams are in pretty much one location. You will see trays of juvenile clams that are being cultivated and then around them the larger older Samoa giant clams.
Notes About Visiting Samoa's Giant Clams Sanctuary
- Please DO NOT TOUCH the clams. Sunscreens, moisturizers and even our natural oils can harm the clams so dive down to get a closer look but please don't touch them.
- Make sure you take an underwater camera or a go pro to get the best images.
- Try to use no sunscreen (with boardies and rashies for protection instead) or reef safe sunscreen.
- Be careful getting in and out of the water. The steps can be slippery but are also covered in shells so you will need reef shoes at least to get in and out. They are fine to leave on the stairs. No one will take them.
- Try to go on high tide for the easiest way to get in and out to the clam beds. A lower tide won't mean you can't do it, but it won't be as easy.
Are the giant clams protected?
Yes. The clams are protected. Please just swim over them and down to take better photos or get a closer look, but please do not touch the clams. The different sizes of the clams are essential to them all growing well so its important that none of them are touched and damaged.
Savaia Village itself is lovely and as you drive a little further down the road (to the right when you hit the junction) you can get a great photo of the bay like this one!
Video of Savaia Giant Clam sanctuary Samoa
The clams are much brighter in color than they appear on the video. I'm not a wonderful video editor so I didn't colorise them at all. You can see as I dive down the amazing colours but its not a great video, so please don't be too mean!
Samoa Giant Clam Sanctuary Photos
Wanting to swim with the Giant Clams Samoa? This is the type of pictures you can expect to get. I used an older GoPro and it still took great photos like these below. I hope you enjoy your giant clam Samoa snorkelling experience. We really did.
Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She's always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.